Statistics show one out of every ten teens has already been in a domestically violent relationship. While not all bear the scrapes and bruises, they all suffer the emotional stress of those relationships. Taylor Clay is one teen who has worn both the physical and emotional evidence of an abusive relationship.
"He would strangle me; he would slap me across my face if I said something he didn't like. I could just see it getting worse," explained Taylor of just one of the many outbursts her ex-boyfriend had. "I heard I'm sorry it's not going to happen again everyday for about five months."
Taylor eventually told her mother about these incidents and was able to press charges; however, the grief and pain of her past has stayed with her until recently.
"Listening to Andrea talk was like listening to my relationship happen," said Taylor.
Andrea Stough is one of the outreach coordinators at New Hanover County's Domestic Violence Shelter and Services.
"One of the groups that are vulnerable to domestic violence is teenagers, because they are new to relationships," Andrea said.
Andrea's goals of her outreach program at New Hanover High School is to get teens talking about what are good relationship qualities, and how to recognize the warning signs.
"They are controlling, jealous, and have possessive personalities where they only want you for themselves," explained Andrea. "They try to isolate you from your friends and even try to tell you what to wear."
After discussing warning signs, Andrea handed out red paper flags to represent different acts of domestic violence.
"We will watch a video clip and when they see something they don't like they will put the flag up in the air as that's not okay," said Andrea.
Some other tips she listed were talking to your guidance councilor, parent, or teacher. You can always call an outreach coordinator at New Hanover Country Domestic Violence Shelter and Services at 910-343-0703.
Also, have a backup phone, and know any phone can call 911. It does not have to service to reach the emergency center.
With these tips and tools Taylor and her classmates know what they are looking for not, only in a boyfriend but in themselves.
"Don't just let things slide...don't," said Taylor. "If you let them slide they are going to keep sliding. You need to put the hammer down and say it's not okay to put your hands on me. It's not ok to not trust me. It's not okay"
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